In a vote on February 27, the Bulgarian parliament confirmed the decision to cancel the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant. A month earlier, Bulgaria went to the polls in their first referendum in post-communist time, answering the question “Should Bulgaria develop nuclear energy through the construction of a new nuclear power plant?”
“The outcome of the referendum in January was rather disappointing,” said Zelena Partija leader Marina Dragomiretzkaya. “Characteristic for the day, as forecast by sociologists and the media, is the low rate of participation. Compared to 2009, on hourly bases, the turnout was about three times lower”. This low turnout – only a little over 20% of the population voted – resulted in the decision being non-binding and so referred back to the parliament.
The Greens in Bulgaria, Zelena Partija and Zelenite, were campaigning for a no-vote in the run-up to the referendum, while most parties were in favor.
In the weeks after the referendum, the situation in Bulgaria has become grim. People went on the streets in violent protests to the level of poverty in the country and the rise of energy and other utility prices. The government, led by Prime Minister Bojko Borisov, resigned on February 20, saying, “Our power was handed to us by the people, today we are handing it back to them.”
Now the parliament has decided not to go through with the Belene nuclear power plant, with a majority vote of 114 MPs to 40.
“At this stage, we are encouraged with the latest developments on the NPP issue in our country”, said Marina Dragomiretzkaya, “And we are definitely feeling proud with yesterday’s outcome, to which we have also contributed through systematic efforts to spread anti-nuclear Green ideas. We should, however, be vigilant and alert about an eventual possibility for the Belene NPP project to be re-started by the next National Assembly. We should also continue our fight for complete transparency and revelation of all the NPP contracts signed back in time, to beat any further abuse of public opinion on the subject.”
Borislav Sandov, co-chair of Zelenite, said, “We are very happy that the Belene NPP project is finally shut down. The decision is not perfect because Parliament voted for lifetime extension of the 5 and 6 reactors in Kozloduy and for a new reactor there. But we will keep fighting against those plans in the next years.”